Tag Archives: Fellowship

International Inspiration Update: Bloom Where You Are Planted


Bloom Where You Are Planted

By Graham Caver – Graham’s MySite

Moving to Ulsan, Korea was not our first time overseas. When moving to a new country half way around the world, it is understood that life will be different than “back home”. For us Texans, we knew upfront that TexMex food would be hard to come by and that the Dallas Cowboys’ game wouldn’t be on T.V! But in expat life, you tend to make the best of any situation. So while life is certainly different as an expat, the best of life from “back home” can still be had… it just takes a bit more effort and perhaps a little compromise. Watching American football online at 4 o’clock in the morning isn’t so bad!

But what about church life? Over our previous three overseas assignments, we noticed that church life seems to be an area where expats – myself included – quickly give up because the local offering isn’t the exact same as “back home”. Lots of energy is expended to find inventive and creative ways to replicate most everything else we miss from home (AppleTV + VPN = Netflix), but folks don’t put that same level of effort into linking-in with a group of Christians. Looking back over those assignments, my family had so much fun and made lifelong friends – but there is some regret. My growth as a Christian suffered during that time because I didn’t put in the effort or make the small compromises to meaningfully participate in a church. I resolved to do differently for this assignment.

My wife (Meredith), my two kids, and I arrived in Ulsan in February 2012. Within a few months, we had made friends with two other families who felt similarly and agreed to meet each Sunday morning for a worship service. The beginning was modest – we simply huddled around a laptop and streamed a sermon while the kids watched Veggie Tales in another room. But that modest worship service seemed to scratch an itch, because we soon found more and more families that wanted to participate. Thus was born “Bloom Where You Are Planted”, or “Bloom Church” as we often call it. We now average more than 50 adults and children that meet for worship each Sunday at the HFC Clubhouse representing a range of Christian denominations and nationalities. Three Sunday School classes are held for the children according to age group while the adults meet separately. Throughout the week, there are two Men’s and two Women’s Bible Studies and the C.O.O.L. Club (Children of our Lord) meets on Wednesday directly after school. Bloom also sponsors regular fellowship BBQ’s, camping trips, and nights-out. The whole operation is organized by volunteers. It has been a true blessing to watch God take a little effort and multiply the results.

The motto of “bloom where you are planted” is particularly well-suited for expats. We have all been “planted” here in Ulsan for one reason or another. But will we “bloom”? From a Christian perspective, that requires regular and intentional association with other Christians for worship, strengthening, and accountability. It is hard – if not impossible – to go at it alone. Bloom Church is a great setting for fellowship with other believers and we would love to have you join us. But Bloom Church is nothing fancy and – yes – it will undoubtedly be different from your home church. There is a disco ball in our worship place for goodness sake! The service includes the basics such as praise songs, the Apostle’s Creed, a sermon, and we always close with the Lord’s Prayer. Yet, there is no pastor (sermon is streamed), pulpit, pews, hymnals, choir, stained glass windows or other accoutrements you may normally expect. It all comes back to effort and compromise. Participating in a church here won’t be exactly the same as back home. And you’ll likely have to compromise on some liturgical preferences. But the risk is too high if you sit out of the game and the reward is so great if you join in! Whether it is Bloom or another local church, if you are a Christian – find that place where you can bloom.

Name: Bloom

Location: Ulsan, South Korea

Description: Contemporary worship service organized by expats. Format generally follows the protestant tradition: music, sermon, prayer. Sermon is streamed and projected to large screen

Facebook Link: Bloom Where You Are Planted

Mark Albers to speak at Priority Associates April 30th, 2015


Many years ago, I was invited to hear Mark Albers speak at an event put on by Priority Associates.  Now I didn’t really know exactly what this was all about, but I knew that for a young engineer in the company any words of wisdom from our senior leaders would be time well spent.  But I also knew something else about this particular leader.

I had first met Mark Albers at a luncheon when he was the president of EMDC.  Among other things, Mark talked about what makes a strong leader and specifically used the Old Testament example of David as he described some of these key traits.  What impressed me most was how it came across so naturally and he did it in appropriate way that blended his personal faith with a message that made sense to the entire audience.

It turned out the Priority Associates event was yet another chance to hear Mark speak on drawing upon his faith to support his work.  The added benefit this time however, was getting involved with a network of my colleagues who shared my Christian faith.

I continued to get invites from Priority Associates for their monthly lunch and attended more than a dozen over the years.  I found out Priority Associates was run by Cru Houston (same organization that operates Campus Crusade for Christ) and specifically looks to serve Christians in the workplace.  Their stated mission is to strive to create a network of business professionals committed to developing leaders “from the inside out” and believe it is important to see the relevance of the Bible in your life and to have an impact at work and in the community.

In Houston alone, there are five regional business districts with their own unique group: Downtown, Galleria, Greenway, Energy Corridor and The Woodlands.  In each of these business districts, they offer a monthly lunch with a speaker. The speakers range from CEO’s of major oil companies to pro football players. The diverse topics span from ethics in the work place to unique mission work led by real people who use their talents to serve while still maintaining their day job.  We have had several ExxonMobil executives speak over the years and I have yet to be disappointed amongst the wide range of topics.

The event is very professional and non-threatening which I’ve found perfect for inviting a friend along.  The current monthly meetings are held at Landry’s restaurant in the Woodlands and there is a small fee to cover the cost of the lunch.  To get on the official email invite, you can email dennis.combrink@gmail.com.

And now for the big reveal (which was somewhat blown by the title of this article).  Coming up this April 30th, Mark Albers is scheduled once again to be the speaker at Cru Houston’s Priority Associates event in The Woodlands.  More information to come on how to RSVP, but block your calendar for lunch on that date and let’s make sure Mark feels welcome in the backyard of the new campus!

-Brian Engelman, Brian’s MySite

International Inspiration – Ulsan, Korea

4/14/2015: Please note that an update on Bloom has been published at this link.


Name:  Bloom

Location: Ulsan, South Korea

Description: Contemporary worship service organized by expats.  Format generally follows the protestant tradition: music, sermon, prayer.  Sermon is streamed and projected to large screen

Facebook Link:  Bloom Where You Are Planted

Bloom is an example of the Christian community making a conscious decision, coming together to worship using whatever means the Lord has provided.  This particular effort was spearheaded by an ExxonMobil employee in 2012 (Graham Caver) but has a wide array of expats from other companies and backgrounds that are active in leadership and fellowship.  The format is “low maintenance” but extremely effective providing a place to worship and fellowship together while on international expatriate assignment.

– Brian Engelman – Brian’s MySite (mobilized Aug 2014)